Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Prevent Injuries in Agility With Stretches!

I've been away from blogging for a while as life has been pretty hectic! Dobby and I ran in a three day agility trial over Easter weekend and I ended with a stress fracture in my right foot. This has gotten me thinking about how to prevent injuries for both humans and canines participating in canine sports. If I can't run, then neither can my dog!
Three Easy Canine Stretches:
  1. Body Twists- The first time you try this stretch your dog may be a little tight and not able to stretch all the way. Begin by getting a small but high value treat. Ask your dog to stand either beside you or in front of you. Next place one hand on your dog's side and the treat in the other hand. Hold the treat in front of your dog's nose and bring it back toward your other hand slowly. This stretch works your dog's neck and shoulders and helps with flexibility. This is the first stretch I do with Dobby in the video:
  2. In the video, Dobby doesn't like going over his left shoulder which is tight, we've been working this side over the past couple days and now he can the stretch on both sides!
  3. Spin/Twist-An easy tick that most dogs already know! Spin/twist is a great way to stretch your dog's neck and back. Start with your dog in front of you, then place a treat in front of their nose. Once they are excited about the treat, move the treat around the dog's back in a circle. Some dogs don't like going one direction, so be sure to try on the other side if it isn't working after a few tries. Dog's are either left or right pawed and some only like to go with their dominant paw side when spinning! This is the second stretch we do in the video.   
  4. Sit Pretty- I've seen this trick called a number of things from "sit pretty" to "pretty beg" but whatever you call it, this is one of Dobby's favorite tricks! Whether he knows it or not, this trick is a great way to stretch his back and strengthen his lower back muscles. There are several ways to teach this trick, but I taught Dobby using Kyra Sundance's Method in which you begin with the dog in a sit in front of you. Then you lure the dog's head up and back towards their butt until they are in the position. It may take a little shaping to get it perfect. 
Dobby does a festive "sit pretty"!
Three Human Stretches:
  1. Lunges-This is an easy stretch anyone can do, and it can even be done with your dog! Start on your dog on your right side. Then move your left foot forward into a lunge and lure your dog under your leg with a treat. Repeat the same thing with the right leg and so on.
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  3. Quad Stretch- Make sure you start with your legs shoulder-length apart, so that you've got good balance. The reach behind your back and grab your right foot, bringing it up to your bottom.  Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  4. Calf Stretch- Find a step or ledge to stand on, then stand on the edge facing the stairs, making sure your heels are hanging over the edge. Raise up on your toes and then down until your heel is slightly below the stair. Continue in sections of ten repeats, or try repeating the exercise with only one foot but you may want to use a rail for balance.   
After dealing with my injury and Dobby's shoulder injury last summer, I now take every step I can in order to prevent future injuries. These stretches help work flexibility for both dogs and humans and can help to get you ready for any canine sport!
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  1. Great advice, stretching is just as important for the dogs as it is for humans, especially as we get older and the old joints don't move as easily. Great post. Welcome back.

    1. Exactly, stretching is a great way to keep both dogs and humans moving!

  2. Warming up, cooling down, stretching - all important components of any exercise!

  3. Good advice, the video was really great too!

  4. Brilliant advice. The video was excellent. This is so important.

  5. Hi Y'all!

    Great stretches for man and beast.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  6. Good advice. Mr. N tends to stretch himself a lot but I probably should add in some extra exercises, just in case.

  7. Oh ouch! Sorry to hear about your stress fracture. Those are great exercises and we do all of them! It took Rocco forever to get sit pretty but he can do it now!

  8. Oh no too bad about your injury. Hope it is better. Very good advice on the stretches. I must admit we do not have our dogs do a lot of stretching.

  9. Thank you for the great advice, Rachel & Dobby! Our pups have gotten really good balance while practicing the "sit pretty" position :-) I hope your foot has been recovering and you've been able to not put any stress on it. Stress fractures are a real bummer.

  10. Like the others, I want to say good advice, great video. That aside, I want to say HOLY COW HE REALLY LOOKS LIKE DOBBY! Love it.
    Kelley’s Dog Blog - The A to Z of Dog Shows